Season in Review – Tennessee Titans

By James Fotheringham (@nflhypetrain)

Next up in our review series is the Tennessee Titans.


Before the season the Tennessee Titans were one of those teams that nobody really thought much about. They were “just a team” who were too good to be bottom of the pile in the AFC South, but behind the Texans and Colts. When Andrew Luck announced his retirement, hopes grew, but the prospect of DeShaun Watson on offence, JJ Watt on defence and strong teams in other divisions, making the playoffs via a wildcard look difficult.


The Personnel:


The Coaching team lost OC Matt LaFleur to the Packers which led to Arthur Smith being promoted from the TE coach role. Otherwise, nothing changed. Mike Vrabel was HC, Jon Robinson GM and Dean Pees DC.

On Defence the team had 5 rookies in the final roster, but mostly the team was led by veterans Jurrell Casey, Kevin Byard and Logan Ryan with developing stars Rashaan Evans, Harold Landry and Jayon Brown all stepping up. Kenny Vaccaro and Malcolm Butler began their 2nd seasons at the Titans while Cameron Wake joined from Miami.

On Offence the team added AJ Brown in the 2nd round of the draft to pair with Corey Davis (taken in the 1st round last year). They also grabbed Adam Humphries from Tampa Bay and retained Delanie Walker for another year. Walker went down very early and so Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser shared to load. Ryan Tannehill joined from Miami so act as backup to Marcus Mariota (who started the season with a rather short leash). The Running back duo of Derrick Henry and Dion Lewis were retained while the offensive line was improved by the addition of Roger Saffold from the Rams to join Jack Conklin, Taylor Lewan and co. Henry and Lewis were okay in 2018 but Henry only just scraped over 1000 rushing yards and his utilisation stopped him from reaching his full potential. A lot of experts doubted he’d be able to become elite but as the season unfolded, he exploded.


The Regular Season


Cast your minds back to the conclusion of week 6. The Titans had just been shutout 16-0 by the Denver Broncos to drop to 2-4. The Bills, Jags and Colts had each got the better of them and wins away against the Browns and the Falcons were the only high points. Marcus Mariota was struggling and the team as a whole only scored more than 20 points in 2 games (those in which they won) and had 3 games scoring 7 points for fewer.

During and after the loss in Denver the Titans switched QB and put Ryan Tannehill under centre and that decision was key in turning around their season. They went on to in 6 of their next 7 games to move to 8-5 and in a fight with the Texans for the AFC South. In 10 starts and 2 relief games, Tannehill would complete 201 passes for 2,742yds and 22TCs with only 6INTs. A 117.5 passer rating and completion percentage over 70% was a revelation for the Titans while he was also able to rush 43 times for 185 yards and 4TDs. This support and change in playing style caught teams off guard and gave Derrick Henry the room and licence to run.

Image Credit – Chipermc, Wikimedia

Tannehill made the team a passing threat and brought relevance to the likes of 2nd round pick AJ Brown, 2018 1st rounder Corey Davis and the Delanie Walker replacements at TE in Jonnu Smith and Anthony Firkser. Brown grew throughout his rookie season and became a serious big play threat. Even more so when Henry got into his stride. Brown managed to break the 1000yd reception plateau with 1,052 on 52 receptions, with many of them being more than 20yards. 8 TDs made him an invaluable asset and he was ably backed up by Davis and Humphries.

Dion Lewis was largely ineffective all year. With enough good passing options Lewis was left as more of a backup and a decoy while Derrick Henry ran the show. Henry never had more than 3 targets, so all his work was done on the ground, but after 9 weeks he had only had one game with over 100 rushing yards. Fantasy owners weren’t feeling to need to trade for him and even though the team was improving, nobody could foresee what was coming. In week 10 at home to Kansas City, Henry had 188 rushing yards on 23 attempts and his first multiple TD game of the season. Up to that point he’d had 644 yards and 6TDs in 9 games. This game was the turning point as the 35-32 win (mostly on Henrys back) was the start of a 4 game win streak in which Henry would amass 641 scrimmage yards and 7TDs and each of the 4 games would see him rush for over 100 yards. It was an incredible run which made them the form team going into their crunch divisional game against the Texans.  

Image Credit – Walker Kinsler, Wikimedia

The week 15 head to head was critical as it effectively decided whether then Texans would win the division or whether the Titans would overhaul them. With the Steelers currently in the wildcard spot, whoever lost would be in a scrap to make the post-season. The Texans were off form, totally the opposite to the Titans but DeShaun Watson and co secured a 24-21 win. the Titans were left scrapping with the Steelers for the final wildcard and a loss to the Saints (with Derrick Henry missing from the line-up) the following week proved not to be critical as the Steelers loss to the Jets gave Tennessee the jump on them based on strength of opponent. The Titans then had a simple “Win and in” game against the already playoff bound Texans. An easy 35-14 win against a below strength Houston sealed the deal. A 9-7 record and with the 2nd wildcard spot they’d go in as the 6th seeds in the AFC.


The Post-Season


If seeing the Patriots lose the Dolphins and fall into the Wildcard round (much to the benefit of the Chiefs) wasn’t surprising enough, then what happened at Gillette Stadium certainly was. Very few analysts gave the Titans a chance. They squeaked in on the last day as the final wildcard, have Ryan Tannehill as their QB and weren’t a top 5 defence. Meanwhile the Patriots have Brady and Edelman, a top 3 defence and Belichick in control. 

In the regular season Derrick Henry totalled 1,505 rushing yards on 303 attempts and a (tied) league leading 16TDs. In the post season, he looked unstoppable. He had 34 attempts for 182 yards and a TD against the Patriots, while the defence stifled an increasingly annoyed Patriots offence. Ryan Tannehill only completed 8 passed (from 15 attempts) for 72 yards and a TD but that was all he needed. Anthony Firkser caught the 12 yard pass in the first quarter before Henry took in in from the 1 yard line just before half time to see the Titans into a 14-13 lead. A stalemate second half was finally broken when Logan Ryan picked off Brady with 9 seconds left and took it to the house to cue wild celebrations nationwide.  

Image Credit: Will Newton/Getty Images

The upset against the Patriots was incredible and many anti-Patriot fans were quick to get behind them, but very few people would have said they had a chance against the top seed Baltimore Ravens and Lamar Jackson. Once again, the Titans proved the world wrong. Derrick Henry again would star with 30 rushes for 195 yards at 6.5yrds per carry. He did get a TD, but it was neither rushing, nor receiving. A 3 yard loop ball to Corey Davis on a trick play was probably the moment where the game was won. The defence held, what some argue was the most potent offence in the NFL, to just 12 points while on offence Ryan Tannehill got them over the line without really doing much.

Tannehill only completed 7 passes, but 2 of those were touchdowns. First to Jonnu Smith to set the tone early and then followed up by Kalif Raymond as they took a 14-0 lead. 2 Field goals for the Ravens brought them back into it but the trick play from Derrick Henry to Corey Davis took the wind out of the Ravens. Only minutes later Tannehill was rushing the ball in himself and at 28-6 with less than 20 minutes to go, it was over. The Ravens would get one back through Hayden Hurst, but it was too little too late.

The AFC Championship game against the Chiefs wasn’t the matchup expected on most people’s brackets, but with the Titans on form and Patrick Mahomes being Patrick Mahomes, it was going to be fun to watch. A heavy run offence vs a heavy pass offence and in the end, despite the Titans taking 10-0 and 17-7 leads, the Chiefs did what they have done so often, and scored a succession of TD’s to swing the balance in their favour. A Greg Joseph field goal and a Derrick Henry 4 yard TD run gave the Titans a perfect start to the game. The response from Mahomes to Hill kept it tight but the 10 point lead was restored when lineman Dennis Kelly caught a pass from Tannehill when labelled as an eligible receiver. Another trick that worked a treat.

After that, it became the Patrick Mahomes show. 4 TD’s in 12 game minutes including a short pass to Hill, a dazzling run, a rush from Damien Williams and a 60 yarder to Sammy Watkins finished off the Titans. At 35-17 with 7:33 left on the clock it was a mountain to climb. Tannehill did get another TD to Firkser but with the team behind, he was being forced to throw more. He had 209 yards and 2 TDs with no INTs but with Derrick Henry limited to under 70 rushing yards the Chiefs got the job done and would go on to the Superbowl.


Conclusions


At no point in the season did anyone truly think the Titans would be in the AFC Championship game. They just kept surprising people and after years of not realising his potential, Derrick Henry has finally shown how elite he can be. No shadow from Demarco Murray, no split responsibilities with Dion Lewis and a QB that is capable of running and providing an alternative which keeps the opponents guessing.

It’s hard to say what they need to concentrate on in the off season since the only thing that stopped them was the brilliance of Patrick Mahomes. They had a good young secondary who are learning fast, a pass rush which maybe could use a fresher set of legs (but are still playing to a high level) and some good special teams’ players. On offence, if Henry stays healthy and the likes of Davis and Brown keep developing and the Smith/Firkser combo can evolve into the long term replacements for Delanie Walker then it’s hard to suggest what else they can do. The O-Line is great, and Ryan Tannehill has been a revelation. The big decision is whether the Titans see him as their future. Tannehill is a UFA this off season and it will depend on contracts and cap space whether he returns. I’d be very keen to keep him on as low level deal as he is willing to take if I was the GM. The foundations of something great are there. I’d like to see Tannehill to AJ Brown for another year.

New Orleans Saints v Tennessee Titans
Image Credit: Frederick Breedon/Getty Images

After the loss to the Chiefs Dean Pees announced his retirement (again) and so the team will need a new defensive co-ordinator next season. Their defence was a big reason why Derrick henry was able to be so dominant. There is still room for improvement as they gave up 20+ points on 8 occasions in the regular season and they need to figure out a way of stopping Mahomes, but the signs are positive and maybe a the new DC can tip them over than edge.

It will be interesting to see how they cope next season with the new weight of expectation and teams targeting Henry and Brown, but if you are a Titans fan then this has been a season to remember and you have some exciting times ahead. #TitanUp      

Full10Takeaways – Week 12

By Tim Monk and Lawrence Vos

Garrett of my pub!

Image result for jason garrett
Image Credit: Adam Hunger / AP

Jason Garrett, the bane of Cowboys’s fans since 2011, has come under fire yet again this season for his conservative play calling and coaching decisions. This is mainly in relation to his decision to kick a field goal when down a touchdown with just over 6mins to go in the 4th Quarter.

This isn’t the first time this has happened, and you only actually have to go back 2 weeks where it was exactly the same situation against the Vikings.

Some will point to the fact that despite the conservative nature of playcalling, Dallas has a chance to win the game on their final drive which would have rendered this conversation to be a little less under the spotlight.

However, when you play the better ranked teams or when you are up against it and need a spark, you just have to push down on the throttle. Jason Garrett simply did not do that.

Everyone is aware of the coaches that are more conservative than the Tories (#politicsjoke) and there is a reason why the Dallas Cowboys HC has his own special segment on our NFL podcast to highlight instances of poor HC decisions.

If you switched the coaching staff from both teams, the Cowboys would have won by 30 as the Cowboys have elite talent on their roster worthy of a double digit team. The coaching style and quality of Garrett however, is of a top 3 draft pick team.

This is why they are 6-5 and a middle of the road team and Jerry Jones is not happy. But until he Cowboys move on from Garrett, they will NEVER win a Super Bowl.


Turning on the JETS

Image result for new york jets
Image Credit: Adam Hunger / AP

Yes, the Jets have not had the most formidable of opponents the last 3 weeks but even so, the way they have gone about their business has been impressive and it’s a timely morale boost to their 2nd year QB Sam Darnold.

The Jets 34-3 mauling of the Oakland Raiders was perhaps their most impressive of the three most recent games as the Raiders are legitimate playoff/wildcard contenders and the reason being that they did it on both sides of the ball.

Darnold finished with an impressive 20/29, 315 yards 3TDs and 0 turnovers, a problem that’s dogged him since he has been in the league. He finally got Robby Anderson more involved and Ryan Griffin has been a great addition to the team leading to the front office inking him to a 3 year, $10m deal this week.

Next on the slate is the Bengals and the Dolphins. Expect the Jets to keep rolling not just in the NFL but for the start of your fantasy playoffs too.


Bengals go back to D’oh-lton

Image result for andy dalton
Image Credit: Frank Victores / AP

Zac Taylor has announced that the team will be going back to Andy Dalton as Quarter Back for the rest of the season taking over from Ryan Finley, who started 3 games.

Finley has consistently struggled to push the ball downfield and accuracy has also been an issue with just a 47% completion rate on 87 pass attempts which has accounted for 2 touchdowns, 2 interceptions and 3 fumbles. He failed to reach 200 yards passing in any of the three games and has a 62.1 passer rating, 17 points below that of Dalton’s this season.

It’s clear that the team who have a 2 game “lead” for the #1 overall pick in 2020 have done their evaluation of Finley and you can expect Finley to never see the field in a Bengals Jersey again unless it’s through injury or suspension.

The low level production filtered through to the players as Tyler Boyd recently expressed his displeasure at a lack of targets from the 2019 draft pick which led to him being fed in the game against the Steelers. Fellow WR AJ Green has been MIA for the season and you have to wonder if their QB selection had anything to do with it, look out for AJ Green to make a miraculous recovery and return to the field catching passes from Dalton.


Stop Interfering!

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - NOVEMBER 24: Head coach Sean Payton of the New Orleans Saints challenges a play against the Carolina Panthers during the first quarter in the game at Mercedes Benz Superdome on November 24, 2019 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Image Credit: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

Pass Interference became a challengeable element this season after the Saints were, let’s face it, robbed in last year’s NFC title game against the Rams.

This season, it’s not stayed away from the front pages of the NFL news outlets.

PI not being overturned enough, inconsistent ruling on it and has led to many teams, fans and players not understanding exactly what is or isn’t worth challenging.

The game between the Panthers and Saints nearly allowed PI to rear it’s ugly head once more as the Panthers challenged a non PI call which was overturned to a PI penalty. You can imagine how irate Sean Payton was at the overturn, something that has happened on less than 10% of the time so far this year.

The Saints though, were able to overcome with a little bit of Slye help and the win could end up being the difference between the #1 seed or the #2 seed and now gives the Saints huge momentum and morale boost as they look forward to extracting revenge against the Falcons on Thanksgiving night.


Derrick Henry Szn

Image Credit: AP Photo/Mark Zaleski

It’s almost December, that means Christmas is coming.

It also means it’s Derrick Henry time.

In games Derrick Henry has played after November 10, he has racked up a whopping 1493 yards, averaging 5.74yards per carry and scored 16 touchdowns.

He is definitely a polarising player in terms of fantasy football and even at the head coaching level as previous Head Coaches have seemingly refused to put the rock in his hands.

You cannot argue his production as the season wears on though and anyone entering their fantasy playoffs will hope for Henry to continue the trends on the ground.


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Socially inept

Image Credit: Patrick Semansky / AP

On the verge of your first win as a rookie NFL quarterback you can excuse doing a Thurman Thomas and maybe losing your helmet, but to do what the Redskins Dwayne Haskins did was inexcusable. With eight seconds left in the game and the Detroit Lions looking for a miracle Jeff Driskel was picked off for a third time.

Meanwhile Haskins was wandering the sidelines and borrowed a fans ‘cellphone’ to take a selfie. As Haskins was increasing his Insta profile poor old Case Keenum had to run onto the field to take the victory kneel.

We all know crazy things happen at the end of NFL games, but for Dwayne Haskins his pursuit of socialness will far outlast his first professional victory in NFL history. 


Lineman’s dream comes true 

Image Credit: Getty Images

“It was all a dream…” is a famous opening lyric from a Biggie Smalls song, it was also what happened to Tampa Bay Buccaneers DL Vita Vea who hauled in a touchdown pass against the Atlanta Falcons. Talking of biggie size frames Vea became the heaviest NFL player to catch a TD since 1950. at 347lb the behemoth first round draft pick was all kinds of excited when he hauled in the 1 yard score from Jamies Winston.

We all love seeing the big guys get some love and Vea’s score was particularly pleasing and helped the Buccs to gain a win against the in form Falcons.

To compare Vea against one of the most famous big guys to have an offensive cameo every now and then he weighed 12lb more than William ‘The Refrigerator’ Perry. 


ABC its as easy as 1-2-3-4-5. 

Image Credit: Michael Reaves / Getty Images

It feels wrong even making a humorous reference to the dethroned King of Pop, but when one commentator blurted out ‘that’s a Jackson Five’ after Ravens QB Lamar Jackson tossed his fifth TD of the game against the Rams it did raise a small chuckle.

LJax is making an awfully convincing march towards the NFL MVP award after yet another jaw-dropping performance both in the air and on the ground. With another blowout victory in the can Lamar could unwind and watch his older backup Robert Griffin III steer the ship in the final period.

By the time we hit the end of the 2019 regular season it’s likely the 2020 NFL Record and Fact Book (well PDF) will need a new #8 annex. 


Making a big moustake

Image Credit: Clutchpoints.com

Down by 32 points at one point against the dictionary definition of an average NFL team the Jacksonville Jaguars coaching staff must be seriously wondering if they made a mistake bringing back Nick Foles into the starting lineup.

Since his return Foles led teams have lost by a combined 42 points. Yes Gardner Minshew had a poor outing at Wembley, but the buzz he generated up to that point was at a Lin-Sanity type level. Nobody I saw walking up Wembley way a few weeks ago was dressed up like Napoleon Dynamite, but there were plenty of Fu-Man-Chu moustaches.

The Jaguars season, currently boasting a 4-7 record, is all but over so why not throw Minshew back in the spotlight. The Jags have three winnable games and two that they could play spoilers. #Unleashthemoustace 


10 carat Gold

Image Credit: Robert Reiners / Getty Images

With 12 weeks in the books only two teams have reached 10 wins. One was predictable and one certainly wasn’t.

In the past 5 seasons prior’s to 2019 the San Francisco 49ers registered 25 wins – averaging five wins and exactly zero playoff performances. Under head coach Kyle Shanahan and most likely the single most impressive offseason the Niners already have the same amount of wins they managed in 2017 and 2018 combined. It’s going to be the single best divisional race to the finish in the NFL as the 49ers will go toe to to with the Seahawks for the division and home field advantage.

Jimmy G and top target TE George Kittle looked magical against the Packers, but the Niners D is the real reason for such a superb season. If only that pesky Russell Wilson wasn’t around San Fran would still be undefeated. Roll on the rematch in Week 17. 

Where Do They Go From Here; LA Chargers

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the LA Chargers. Don’t forget to check out our AFC West podcast where we talked with a fan from every team in the division!

How Did Last Season Go?

If you offered the Chargers a divisional round game loss to the Patriots, they’d probably accept that this is kind of where they should be. That said, I (Tim) was particularly high on them going in to the season that I had some of my hard earned on them. The Chargers were one of the more balanced and complete teams in the AFC if not the NFL last season and just succumbed to a typical Patriots January performance in a game that just got away from them early.

Hunter Henry going down before the season started was never going to be ideal and continued their flirting with Antonio Gates. Hopefully, that will not be repeated in 2019 (sorry Antonio, we love you, but you’re like 50 years old and slower than Jason Witten was taking to commentary).

The Chargers’s loss to KC in week 1 turned out to be pivotal in the end, but actually uncharacteristically started quite hot going 7-2 in the first 9 weeks with their only losses coming in Los Angeles (@Rams).

The Chargers ended up 12-4, tied with KC but lost the tiebreaker which may or may not have been crucial. We’ll never know.

They ended having both a top 12 offence and defence in terms of yardage and points allowed which confirms their status as one of the more well rounded teams.

In terms of personnel, on offence Mike Williams finally repaid the Chargers with being healthy and producing on the field after being a 1st round pick. Williams was able to chip in with 11 touchdowns (1 rushing) on 43 targets, a ratio that is probably unsustainable to repeat in 2019. Keenan Allen pretty much had a replica season from 2017; over 1000 yards on around 100 receptions and 6 TDs. More importantly, his previous injury issues seem to be well and truly behind him. Finally Tyrell Williams had a nice complimentary role in the offence, but seemingly not enough to warrant a bigger contract and will not be returning.

In the backfield, Melvin Gordon was the teams top TD scorer (no surprises there) but did miss 4 games due to injury. Austin Ekeler had himself a nice season, stepping in when required but also forcing his way to earn more snaps in this offence.

Overall, I think the Chargers 2018 can be seen as a success but 2019 will be the year where they will be expected to make an even deeper push in January and play a February game.

Quick word on the defence – Derwin James had a fantastic rookie season and was in the conversation for DRO. 3.5 sacks, 75 solo tackles and 3 interceptions confirming his status as one of the steals of the 2018 1st round. Joey Bosa came back for the 2nd half of the season and picked up where he left off. One of the top defences in the league and have age on their side so look for this to continue in 2019.

Housekeeping

LA Chargers own the 28th pick in the first round along with pick 60 (2nd round), 91 (3rd), 130 (4th), 166 (5th), 200 (6th) and 242 (7th)

Chargers have about $10m in cap space at this moment.

Outgoings

Tyrell Williams was expendable for the money that was available on the open market. Right place right time for him. Jason Verrett’s injury history came back to bite him and was let go. Defensive Tackles Philon and Liuget along with safety Addae were the other names looking for a new home.

Incomings

Not many glaring needs for the Chargers but Tyrod Taylor is the new backup to Rivers and Thomas Davis was a surprising addition to the defence though he will bring masses of linebacker experience.

Outlook for Next Year

Going to be looking at going 1 or 2 better than 2018 with this squad and anything less could perhaps see Anthony Lynn under fire.

It will be a case of hoping one or 2 things fall their way luck wise to be able to get there. Both sides of the ball are young enough but experienced and talented enough to say that this team should be contending for the next few years and anything less is a failure.

Prediction

I think the Chargers have to be considered as one of the top 3 teams in the AFC and I fancy them to make the AFC Championship game this year. Whether they win or not is not for me to say as I have a soft spot for them so will be slightly biased. They have the talent, they have the pieces on both sides of the ball, it’s just about going out there and doing it.

I had my money on them last year, they will again in 2019.

Fantasy Football

Rivers – perennially underdrafted – double digit rounds – QB 1

Melvin Gordon – mid 1st round pick – RB1

Austin Ekeler – double digits rounds -RB3/4 – PPR sleeper

Keenan Allen – late 2nd/3rd round pick – low WR1/high WR2

Mike Williams – 6th round area – WR2 ceiling

Hunter Henry – 5th/6th Round – TE1

 

Where Do They Go From Here; Titans

After our divisional season review podcasts, we are now looking to the future and asking where each franchise goes from here. We put ourselves in the chair of being GM or the owner and going over what moves we would make in order to win a Superbowl, make the playoffs or just regain some pride…

Today we take a look at the Tennessee Titans.

Don’t forget to check out the AFC South podcast where we talked to Adam Foxcroft from the Long Snappers Pod and get their thoughts on them!

How Did Last Season Go?

Last season has to go down as a disappointment considering a new OC in Matt LeFleur was brought in to steer the ship with Mike Vrabel to a new exciting offence, separate from the “exotic smash-mouth” stuff that was rammed down our throats. That said, another winning record and the third straight season of 9 wins (which was good enough for a playoff birth in 2017). The signing of Dion Lewis probably didn’t work out how Tennessee wanted it to and neither did the progression of Marcus Mariota. Mr Wet Wet Wet as we call him on the podcast, had multiple injuries lingering throughout the season, leading to Blaine Gabbert getting some playing time.

It’s fair to say that the defence carried the Titans this season in most games and have the rare accolade of being a team to post a shut out (vs Giants) but also be shut out too (vs Ravens). 3rd best in terms of defensive points allowed and 6th worst in terms of points scored tells it’s own story about the Titans season (shoutout to Kevin Byard for the 66yard special teams trick play touchdown!).

Housekeeping

At the time of the article, the Titans have a healthy $23m in cap space and own the 19th overall pick in the first round of the 2019 Draft (coupled with pick 51 in round 2 and pick 83 in the 3rd).

Outgoings

Some of the time I wonder if Titans HQ is like the film get out where once you’re in, you can’t escape (suitable film title when you think about it).

That’s the short way of putting that nothing is troubling the exit door.

Incomings

The saviour is here! Ryan Tannehill is going to fix all of the problems at QB.

No, but seriously, Tannehill as a backup is not bad insurance for when Mariota struggle with injury again this season. May actually be a smart move if they wish to dump Mariota who is on his final leg of his Rookie contract.

A few signings on both sides of the ball include slot receiver Adam Humphries coming over from Tampa who apparently preferred them to New England despite them offering more money. Rodger Saffold agreed to a 4year, $44m deal to help with the offensive line, one of the best graded units coming in to the 2018 season.

Cameron Wake joins on the defensive side of the ball from Miami with a 3yr $23m deal and a player they’ve managed to keep in free agency saw Kenny Vaccaro re-sign too to the tune of 4yrs $26m (also want to shout out that they have a player called Dee Liner on the defensive line, I kid you not).

Outlook for Next Year

This year hinges all on Marcus Mariota.

Yes he has another new OC to listen to, but this year it’s Arthur Smith. He has already been at the Titans previously as the Tight End’s coach so hopefully the transition will not be as painful as Mariota’s arm injuries suffered in 2018. It’s going to be interesting to hear the vibes coming out of camp about him because whilst he could easily be extended in terms of contract, it’s not too farfetched to imagine a world where Mariota is a free agent in 2020.

The defence is here to stay and should be the main reason why Titans win the games they do in 2019, I am not sure the offence will be able to put them in a position to eke out 1 or 2 more wins that would put them in serious consideration for a division title.

That said, don;’t be surprised if the Titans tinker with the prospect of drafting a WR or even a Tight End to go along with Davis and Humphries to try and ensure opposing defences respect balance on their offence.

Prediction

As said above, whilst the Titans D will put them in consideration as a wildcard team, I’m not sure the offence is going to hold up their end of the bargain.

Henry is in a contract year so it will be interesting to see how much they use him (haven’t we been here before?) and whether they can finally get some consistency going on offence in terms of production and stability at the HC position. Arthur Smith shouldn’t have too many problems implementing what he wants and knows the personnel well so bedding in period shouldn’t cause too much concern for Titans fans.

Surely we couldn’t have another 9-7 season could we?

I reckon we will.

Fantasy Football

Marcus Mariota – No, thank you.

Derrick Henry – RB2 ceiling – 4th rnd pick

Dion Lewis – RB3 – 6th rnd pick

Corey Davis – WR 3 – 5th rnd pick *Potential BUST alert*

Adam Humphries – WR 3 – 7th rnd pick

Delanie Walker – TE1 (aren’t they all!?) – double digit rounds

 

See you on the Upside…

Upside….Potential….Ceiling….

All words synonymous with fantasy football players we all get excited about each off-season.

We all keep a keen eye on minicamp battles, coaches speak from interviews to try and get that extra edge about players that we want on our teams every year.

Average Draft Position, or ADP, is the average position in drafts that players are taken and the beauty of it is, everyone has an opinion on players that are too high, players that are considered steals.

One thing that we always overpay for is where players have anything which is considered close to those first 3 words at the start of this article.

Fantasy Football GMs love a player with upside or potential. Whether it has come from another player leaving and potentially giving a player a bigger role in their offence. Or a player that has been traded for or drafted in to a team where lots of targets are available or come in to a high scoring offence.

Hype starts to build and in most cases, where we hear nothing from the players or the coaches on these players and their roles, we all board the hype train.

This skyrockets player’s average draft position in mock drafts and in some cases, actualy drafts. We usually find ourselves kicking the wall when these players don’t repay the faith we show in them as Fantasy Football managers.

Here we will look at the candidates where the hype train is full or where we are potentially way over the top on for next season.

Quarterbacks:

DeShaun Watson

There will be a common theme here at the Quarterback position. Small sample size but lots of ability.

After being drafted no.12 overall in the 2017 draft, Watson lit up the NFL in his 6 career starts, despite taking a game or two to get in to the groove.

His 1st season start was a TNF game against Cincinnatti and despite not the greatest of games (although coming away with the W), Watson never looked back.

Watson went in to New England in Week 3 and were seconds away from a massive upset of the Patriots. Week 4, Watson scored a rookie record equalling 5 TDs, battering the Titans with a 50 burger, earning Watson the AFC offensive player of the week. He followed that up with a 5TD performance on MNF vs the Chiefs. Week 6, Watson rolled into Seattle and passed for over 400 yards and 4 Touchdowns.

The rookie was named the AFC player of the month and broke the record for number of touchdown by a rookie in a calendar month.

His season was ended prematurely when tearing his ACL in practice on a non contact drill and still managed to put up 1699 yards, 19 touchdowns and 8 interceptions (including 2 more rushing TDs). He finished 50th on the NFL’s top 100 (polled by their peers).

So this season, Watson is going QB1 in some leagues (yes, over Aaron Rodgers) and even if Watson rediscovers his 2017 form for all 16 games in 2018, this is wayyyy too high. Granted his last 4 starts in 2017, he ended up QB1 and QB2 twice. People are drafting him at his ceiling and it’s no sure thing that we get that Watson back. AN ACL tear could lead to less mobility from Watson and the coaching staff dialling up less plays for Watson to run the ball and scrambling may also be on the downward trend. They are more likely to lean on their run game and their star studded defence in a division that has become a lot tougher.

It is far too risky to take Watson at his current ADP but I can certainly see why people are. I would bet my bottom dollar that Watson will go a few rounds later in 2019 than where he goes next season.

Jimmy Garoppolo

Jimmy G finished the season as one of the hottest QBs, and it seems the lasting impression has not been forgotten. After being traded from the Patriots for a measly price, Garoppolo wasted no time in the driving seat of the 49ers and the Kyle Shanahan offence. Winning all 5 games to end the season and throwing for over 1500 yards.

However, he did only throw 7TDs and was intercepted 5 times, a lot of people are buying in to what the 49ers offence could be next season and a lot of that probably has to do with Kyle Shanahan. Jimmy G is the 9th Quarterback off the boards, ahead of Stafford, ahead of Matt Ryan, Phil Rivers and Big Ben. That to me sounds crazy for a guy that has only started a handful of games, like DeSahun Watson. I know he was a backup QB in new England for multiple years and let’s face it, one handsome as hell guy! But to be this high in drafts is only going to lead to disappointment.

Kyle Shanhan loves of finding ways to get everyone the ball and is great at getting the most out of his backfields. Jimmy G wont actually need to do too much in this offence. Their defence has improved and the NFC west has probably got a bit weaker with Seattle going backwards. They also have 3 of their first 4 games away from Levi’s stadium against some decent teams, so you may find yourself ruing that 7th round pick of Jimmy Garoppolo if things don’t quite go to plan at the start of the season for the 49ers.

Running Backs:

Jerick McKinnon

I promise I am not a 49ers hater!

Similar to the comments above regarding schedule and the Kyle Shanahan sharing the love type of offence, Jerick McKinnon is seemingly the workhorse over in the bay area this season. I just worry about him being able to handle the workload. He was never given that in Minnesota and Latavius Murray ended up taking over that backfield in the absence of the injured Dalvin Cook. McKinnon has had plenty of chances to be what he is in San Francisco and never really convinced me he is anything mroe than a 3rd Down/Passing down back, which he is actually very efficient and explosive at.

McKinnon was RB33 in standard scoring last year and only finished inside the top 12RBs 4 out of the 16 weeks (0.5pt PPR). He signed a 4 year, $30m deal to join the 49ers and he has very little in the way of competition. Carlos Hyde has gone to Cleveland, leaving only Matt Breida and Joe Williams in the depth chart. Whilst Matt Breida could have a bit of joy in this offence, I am sure not taking a 3rd round pick chance on McKinnon, especially in standard scoring). McKinnon has never topped 160 carries and barely received 200 touches in a whole season. Whilst he has the ideal place to be utilized best with Kyle Shanahan, the same applies to all the players in the offence and I cant see McKinnon justifying a pick that early in what could be a lower than expected scoring team. Let him be someone else’s problem.

Derrick Henry

From Jerick, to Derrick.

Probably a cop out with Henry here, but if people are going to continue to draft him as high as the 3rd Round, he will continue to be labelled as such.

We all know how much of a physical freak Henry is. The bruising, towering powerful former Alabama back is as physically brutal as they come, but Tennessee made the moves to acquire Dion Lewis from New England. Everyone thought Henry would have been unleashed this season after the departure of DeMarco Murray, but the move for Lewis says to me that Tennessee are not entirely convinced with what Henry can over over a season. He isn’t a pass catching back, nor is he great at picking up pass protection. If it’s one thing that kills running backs in the NFL, it’s the lack of pass protecting skills (just ask Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay staff).

Henry did reel off a few long TD runs last season in garbage time and like I’ve said, the potential is there, but people are chasing their losses after last year and you will once again get your fingers burned. 4 top 12 finishes in fantasy last year does not inspire confidence for me with a 3rd round pick. Yuk. Players going in the vicinity of Henry at the moment are Joe Mixon, Christian McCaffrey and Jay Ajayi along with the rookie Guice. 100 times out of 100 I would take all of those over Henry. Always.

 

Wide Receivers

Josh Gordon

May be a bit of a controversial one here. No-one is doubting his talent or his credentials of justifying his 3rd round investment required to acquire him in drafts currently, there are just too many potential things getting in the way for me, his off field issues being top of that list.

Josh Gordon or “Flash” has missed so much time with his off field troubles with substance abuse and hopefully, all that is now behind him. Photos going round showing what kind of shape he is in at the moment look impressive and maybe finally we can see a return of the WR that finished with over 1600 yards (!) and 9TDs in 2013. If you can guarantee me 16 games for Gordon next season and that he has returned to optimum peak conditioning, I could perhaps buy in to his 3rd round investment, but there are also other factors now affecting this too much for me to be comfortable with doing so;

Firstly,  Hue Jackson. Hue Jackson is an awful coach. The Browns have won just won 1 game in 2 seasons and have not won on a Sunday since Dec 13, 2015. Yikes.

The team are perennial low scorers every season and this season looks to be no different.

Change in Quarterback, an influx of players on offence and a QB waiting in the wings in Baker Mayfield mean that there are so many variables surrounding this team that I cannot be confident that Gordon will return any value with his current draft position (or even expected returns for a potential WR1 or 2 for that matter).

Yes, he could quite easily have a season of 10TDs and 1000 yards, but Jarvis Landry being there really could cut into his piece of the pie, helping the team sustain drives and be a go to target for Taylor. Tyrod Taylor is an average, steady Eddie type of QB and although he throws a good long ball, it’s a messy offence and it’s hard to know how well this offence will gel. Added in to that a fairly difficult schedule and the fact he has to prove that he still has it too because he didn’t exactly set the world on fire on his return last year (18 rec , 335 yards and 1 TD in 5 games), I’ll pass.

Tyreek Hill

Hill was very much utilised all over the field last year: Rushing (14 targets behind the line of scrimmage too!), passing (threw an interception) and receiving.

This year, it could all come crashing down.

New quarterback in Patrick Mahomes (some say that will help Hill’s skill set on the nine route) and a new shiny Wide Receiver in Sammy Watkins. We all know what a healthy Sammy Watkins can do and obviously didn’t flash his best but had little time to learn the playbook in LA with the Rams. Watkins could shine brighter than HIll here, and he is going at least 4 rounds later in drafts. Oh, and there’s top tier TE Travis Kelce still there too.

Whilst Hill will be in contention for the most targets and touches in the offence, he could turn out to be very boom or bust next year. End of season stats may return dividends for Hill owners once it’s all said and done, but you may find yourself not playing in the fantasy playoffs because of Hill. Look at last seasons weekly finishes in fantasy (0.5ppr):

3, 47,17 ,59, 32, 3, 58, 5, 20, 36, 1, 37,10, 10 – That’s more ups and downs that a Thorpe Park Roller coaster. You want to commit to this as potentially your WR1? Oh, you do…well good luck to you. Word of Warning: Schedule. Kansas City and Andy Reid are well known for their Regular Season form. They smashed the Patriots on opening night last year so they are not afraid to play the big teams. They travel to the Chargers, Steelers and Broncos in the first 4 weeks and Mahomes will be tested on his mental strength as well as his abilities. One thing in Tyreek’s favour is that the KC defence is a shadow of it’s former self and could lead to a lot of shootouts.

Tight Ends

Trey Burton

You cant spell trendy without the word Trey.

Trey Burton, the former backup tight end in Philadelphia to Zach Ertz, the backup QB to Nick Foles (just kidding, but did you see that throw to Foles in the Super Bowl?) now finds himself in Chicago on a pretty nice deal. After getting pretty much a WR deal (4 year, $32m), it seems the man sharing his name with a UK mens clothing retail chain is line for an interesting workload this coming season. He is the 9th TE off the board and whilst that translates to a late 7th/early 8th round pick, it’s actually not bad value. It could just be that this may be a year too early.

Chicago and Trubisky struggled last year under John Fox (who has now gone) and Matt Nagy has joined the ranks so hopefully play calling wont see Burton’s production suffering. However, there are a lot of mouths to feed in Chi-town. Taylor Gabriel, Anthony Miller and of course, marquee signing Allen Robinson have also joined the offence during the free agency and the draft and you also have Tarik Cohen lurking there in the backfield too. Trubisky will need to step forward to sustain a couple of these in fantasy and Trey Burton may not necessarily be top of the list. He should offer you a service at Tight End, which is hit or miss at the best of times but you may be struggling if it is only him you are relying on. I expect Burton’s ADP to rise going into preseason as the hype in this Chicago team gathers pace, at which point I may look to other options at Tight End. Drafting a tight end in round 6 or 7 but not being certain of being able to lock it and load it week to week isn’t something I am a fan of.

 

Podcast 10 – My Team My Thoughts – Titans

Paul Stacey joins us to talk about the Tennessee Titans.

Find out who he has branded Brock Osweiler 2.0, why he is excited about Mike Malarkey departing this offseason and we play a statistical game involving Marcus Mariota!